Our guide Kyle Bates called in a post after the team climbed up the steepest portion of the West Buttress route this morning. They carried loads of supplies up onto the spectacular ridge that leads from the top of a feature known as the Headwall, up to the site of the group’s high camp and 17,200′.
The team left camp well before the sun came around to warm them and they enjoyed clear, cold weather as they climbed up moderate snow slopes to the base of the Headwall. The Headwall ranges from 35-45 degrees in steepness and the route through this section is protected by ropes that are attached to the icy surface at semi regular intervals. The climbers have ascenders (rope clamps) attached to their harnesses and they clip these into the fixed lines for additional protection against a slip. This is a challenging and tough stretch of route, but the rewards of gaining the rocky ridge that leads to high camp are well worth it.
Above the top of the fixed line, they climbed another 200′ in order to reach a less utilized, flat bit of terrain where they buried their cache of supplies, before returning back to the 14,200′ camp for the evening. The forecast looks a bit blustery for the next couple of days, but the team is due for a rest and acclimatization day anyway, so they’ll sit tight and see if the forecasters are actually right. They called for a high temperature of 102F in Talkeetna last week and were only off by about 20 degrees, so anything is possible!
Here is Kyle: